UFCW Canada is very saddened to learn of the passing of Huguette Plamondon, who dedicated over five decades to building the union, improving the lives of working families, and breaking down barriers for women in Canada.
Sister Plamondon died in Montreal on September 29 after succumbing to a heart attack. She was 84.
Starting out as a secretary in the Montreal office of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA, a predecessor union of UFCW Canada) in 1945, Huguette was the embodiment of Canada’s new generation of working women.
Shortly after entering the workforce, Sister Plamondon found herself embroiled in a massive strike that involved Canada’s entire meatpacking industry. Motivated by a strong belief in social justice, Huguette became an ardent supporter of the strike. She led pickets, and became a source of inspiration and encouragement for her sisters and brothers in the labour movement. She was 21 years old.
Because Sister Plamondon possessed a rare combination of intelligence, passion and eloquence, she rapidly rose through the labour movement’s ranks. And she made history every step of the way.
Huguette was elected president of the Montreal labour council in 1955, and in doing so became the first Canadian woman to lead a major labour organization. A year later, Sister Plamondon became the first woman in Canada to achieve a national union executive position by becoming a vice president of the newly-formed Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
In 1961, Huguette took another place in Canada’s history, nominating Tommy Douglas as the first leader of the New Democratic Party at the NDP’s founding convention. She served UFCW Canada as an international vice-president and an executive assistant to the national director for many years, and was the long-time president of UFCW Canada Local 744P in Quebec.
Sister Plamondon’s husband was national labour leader Roméo Mathieu, who passed away in 1989.
"Huguette was a trailblazer," says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. "She spent her whole adult life fighting for fairness and defending the interests of working families. She was a champion for UFCW Canada women and their sisters in the broader labour movement and beyond. Her efforts made a lasting difference and we will always be grateful for her tremendous legacy.”
A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, October 16 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Mausolée Saint-Martin Blvd. East in Laval, QC.
Vol. X No. 39 • October 4, 2010